Man reunited with refugee mother at Ford Airport

Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 17:42:18-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A Syrian refugee has been reunited with her son who lives in West Michigan, after several delays including the federal travel ban.

It has been a long road for 67-year-old Fariha Aljbasini. She completed 18 months of refugee vetting, but in late January when she was supposed to arrive in the U.S., President Donald Trump's travel order was signed banning refugees from Syria and six other countries. Her wait lasted weeks more until a federal judge issued a stay.

Wednesday, on her fourth recently rescheduled flight to Grand Rapids due to the ban and weather, the two were reunited at Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

"We need to make sure that we have a secure country, secure border, not only from these seven countries, but from any country," Aljbasini's son Zane Shami said.

Shami says he believes in secure borders but supports extra vetting, not banning.

"Whether that's in Syria or anywhere for that matter, we should not ban them from not coming here but yet we should make sure that they go through probably extra processing to make sure that they come here," he said. "I went through this myself."

Now living in West Michigan for 21 years, Shami graduated from Western Michigan University and now works as an electronics engineer in Kalamazoo. He became a citizen in June 2013.

"Amazing, dream come true, the first thing I did was I registered to vote," he said. "This was my first time ever to vote in a democratic society."

Shami says his mother, on a routine visit with family in Kuwait, was unable to return home to Syria when war broke out.

"She left her house with two pieces of luggage and some gifts, thinking that she will go back to her own house in a few months," he said. "It was very difficult for her to learn that her own house... was destroyed as a result of war."

Wednesday he tells FOX 17 he's blessed to be going home to Hudsonville to take care of his mother.